Two congregants rake in food and philanthropy with their special garden of earthly delights destined for those in need.
They can dig it.
Which is why Mitch Diamond and Bruce Dorsey are such naturals for the accolade of Mitzvah Heroes: Co-chairs of Congregation Beth Or’s Corner of the Land, they have squared their gardening talents with a need to do mitzvot by tilling the soil and tending to the needs of others.
The garden in question is a 33 x 33 foot plot on the Maple Glen synagogue’s property. There, the two members, aided by other congregants, carved out a "corner of the land" to provide fresh produce for the Inter-Faith Housing Alliance, which provided seed money for the project and which supports an Abington food cupboard and Hope Gardens in Ambler.
The Mattie Dixon Community Cupboard in Ambler is also a beneficiary of its work.
It all has roots in the Bible; Dorsey cites Leviticus 19 as a source of inspiration: “And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard, neither shalt thou gather the fallen fruit of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and for the stranger.”
Neither man is a stranger to the task at hand; it’s all natural turf for Diamond and Dorsey, both seasoned gardeners. Indeed, says Dorsey, a medicinal chemist for the Israeli/locally located firm Teva Pharmaceuticals, “I continue to plant and harvest fresh produce from my home garden.”
Diamond’s field of dreams has expanded, notes the sales manager at Atkore International, with “a water barrel and a composting bin at home to try to be more environmentally friendly.
“I think these are good lessons to teach children,” says Dorsey, who lives in Maple Glen with his wife, Jennie Nerenberg, and their three children, “each of whom can sometimes be found helping at the Beth Or garden.” Diamond and wife, Suzanne, live in Warrington, also with three kids.
At their garden at Beth Or, they have a captivated classroom awaiting them. “We have preschool teachers take their classes out to visit the garden in the spring and summer and incorporate that into the early childhood school curriculum,” says Dorsey.
Indeed, the effort has the backing of the synagogue's leadership. “We have had both our senior and assistant rabbis in the garden helping with tilling and planting," Dorsey says. "They also support and reinforce the spiritual message of helping the needy.”